Friend Friday is a weekly survey for fashion bloggers run by ModlyChic. To participate email firstname.lastname@example.org
This week's Friend Friday post is about blogs showcasing the negative, i.e. the unfashionable, the badly dressed, the clueless in style, and was actually suggested by me via Google groups. It is something I feel quite strongly about.
I’m fairly new to blogging and discovered many wonderful fashion/clothes blogs in that time. Unfortunately I've also found many who post content that belittles the dress sense of others, whether that be innocent bystanders, celebrities or other bloggers.
If you are a fashion/clothes blogger or a celebrity than putting yourself out there exposes you to critics and that now includes bloggers. While it's never nice to be on the receiving end I think most reasonable people blogging would generally expect and accept that this is going to happen to a degree.
The blogs that really annoy me are those dragging innocent bystanders into their anti-style commentary. So you wouldn't be caught dead wearing a track suit in public and think anyone who does deserves the photographic evidence slapped on your blog so you can complain about how much they offended your sartorially superior eyes? Well I believe I should be able to have a track suit day if I feel like it and shouldn’t have to be camera fodder used to drive traffic to the snide little blogs of the self appointed fashion police out there.
Beware ladies, Veshoevius is about to explode...
1. Do you post pictures on your blog, or would you if the opportunity came along, of people with poor fashion//beauty sense?
No. I think blogs which post pictures of people dressed badly in order to ridicule them should be wiped off the face of the blogosphere. Most if not all of the photos I've come across were taken and posted without that person’s permission. I think that is a supreme act of cowardice and unethical. Some of the commentary I've seen accompanying the subject’s photo would amount to bullying if it were said to that person’s face. In my opinion if your blog relies on posts like this you are not a fashion or style blogger, you are a bully and a coward.
In the early days of my blog I posted some pictures of people who didn’t know I had photographed them but it was never because I thought they had a poor sense of fashion or beauty. I stopped doing this after reading that some street style bloggers ask on principle for their subject's permission to use their images on the internet.
I think they're right. Someone may not be seeking that kind of public attention just because they are dressed a certain way, either well or poorly. It’s like the Google car driving down your street, taking a photo of you, posting it on Google maps and making that information about what you are doing and where available globally on the internet without your permission. It is an infringement of privacy.
Let’s not confuse this with the issue of fame and celebrity. Celebrities are (generally) in the limelight because they want to be, their careers rely on it and they have lawyers and PR teams to deal with negative press. Ordinary human beings have feelings, a right to dignity and privacy about their personal choices as they go about their daily business. Many people don’t consider fashion or style to be a priority in their daily lives for perfectly valid reasons and that should be respected.
There is a saying that those in glass houses should not throw stones. Everyone who considers themselves stylish or fashionable and therefore somehow more important is in a way living in a glass house. Last week’s Friend Friday highlighted that one person’s fashion do’s are another’s fashion don’ts. Our sense of style is subjective. It is influenced by so many things, the cities we live in, our budgets, our upbringings, our interests and even our religious beliefs to name but few. I might get fashion kudos for wearing my harems in a city like London but I’m sure I’ll be laughed out of every public space if I wore them in Mid-West America.
Just because we personally think we know how to dress well (within each of our limited spheres of what being well dressed is), doesn’t mean we can use this as a weapon against people who we think don’t. Who is anyone really to say how bad someone else looks the way they are dressed? Think about it this way, you never know when it will be your turn to face the camera as the subject of a blogger who doesn’t think very highly about what you’re wearing.
At the end of the day it is just clothes that we blog about but posts dissing someone’s appearance can become very personal attacks. Fashion bloggers love clothes and are interested in the art of dress but that doesn’t oblige everyone else on planet Earth to share our passion and we certainly aren’t going to win people over to be interested in personal style by coming across as fashion bullies who know better. In fact we further alienate them.
One blogger I came across who was particularly rude about her victims actually had the gall to be promoting herself as a personal stylist for hire. I’m staggered that she expects any business when people can read her demeaning attitude to what would be the potential clients she considers to need her help! If you genuinely want to provide a service helping people that would require them putting their trust in you, surely the last thing you want to be doing is publicly slagging them off.
2. Do you read any blogs that highlight the bad? Why?
No. When I come across one I move on pretty quickly once I’ve worked out that this is a blog’s focus. It is dull, banal and puerile. I will not follow a blog that does this, if bloggers I follow do this I will unfollow, and I won't even leave a comment to express my distaste at what they're doing, because I’d rather not be linked to such unpleasantness and negativity via internet or otherwise or lend it support by giving it the attention it is seeking.
Why dwell on negative anything? Why expend your energy generating negativity? I know people like to do it but isn’t there more to celebrate in fashion than criticise? Why waste my brain space reading petty insults from one person about another? A lot of fashion bloggers were panicking at one stage about a blog whose sole premise was to criticise fashion bloggers. Why panic? Why lend any credence to those who want to indulge in that behaviour by paying attention and giving them more reason to continue?
I make time for posts that show intelligent critique and creativity, inform me, probe discussion and provide food for thought. If you are simply being bitchy about someone's dress sense, then you are providing none of these for me. Where is the substance in what you are saying? How is this creative?
I do love seeing makeovers of people. Now that would make good content! Even a dignified critique of what doesn't work for a person in their outfit, why and suggestions of alternatives would be a more interesting read than a slew of insults. These are creative processes as opposed to a purely destructive one. This is what annoys me most about the negative blogs I’ve seen. No matter how neglected someone's appearance there is always potential for them improve themselves and the art of dressing well is but one way to do it. There is no exploration of that potential in these blogs – it’s just lots of sniping.
3. Should these bloggers get permission to post the pictures from the subject in the same way the street-style blogs do?
Yes. Let’s see how much posting material such bloggers get if they actually had to be honest and say to their victims “Hi, I think what you’re wearing really sucks and I’d like a photo of your crappy outfit to post on my blog so I can tear strips off you and provide a cheap laugh for my followers”.
I have not seen an example of a post to date (I’m talking about negative fashion bloggers here) in which the blogger has photographed their subject standing looking at the camera as if they have been asked to have their photo taken. The subject’s back is either turned or they are facing away from the camera and clearly unaware they are being photographed. There is no effort made to censor the image to make the individual unrecognisable. It is a grubby and underhand way of sourcing material for blog posts.
In my opinion these are blogs based on artifice and cowardice. If a blog has to rely on such dishonest and nasty methods to generate posts then I really question what else it can offer me in terms of meaningful and inspiring content.
4. As human beings we are fascinated with disasters - of all sorts - why do you think that is? How do the blogs/websites that highlight the negative thrive?
It’s an old journalistic adage that bad news sells newspapers. Somehow we like to read about suffering and pain. We also seem to get a kick out of seeing bad things done to other people. If we ourselves are not the playground bullies, internet bullies, bullies in the workplace, or administrators of torture backed by national governments we validate the behaviour by being the audience at the arena.
Humans unfortunately have a cruel streak. Some like to revel in theirs and others try to rise above it. In a competitive world in which we are all insecure about our place it somehow makes us feel better about ourselves to see other people being taken down. It’s a survival instinct, those who are limping will get eaten first, and the satisfaction we take in this can extend to voyeuristic pleasure. It's much easier to egg on the person throwing stones then defend the person they're aiming at.
Unfortunately fame has been achieved through notoriety for a number of high profile blogs that rely on cutting celebrities down to size and that has probably made it seem, not just acceptable, but also a fast ticket to success for hundreds of Perez Hilton wannabes. It has had a trickle down effect to make it seem fun to point the finger at anybody. At least Perez Hilton doesn't hide behind the anonymity of who he is criticising. Using the internet as medium to criticise someone gives us a bravado we wouldn't have if we had to say those same things to them in person. We forget that there is a human being on the receiving end of our cyber banter.
If blogs and websites highlighting the negative thrive it is because people support them by being an audience that clamours for more. My personal take on this: you can choose to revel and delight in cruelty but you are pandering to that part of your brain that is still reptilian. Alternatively you can choose to be more evolved and use your energy and abilities to create and support positive things rather than indulging in and perpetuating cruelty to others. It is a choice.
5. For many, fashion is subjective. Do you think, there can be anything that is objectively bad in the fashion world?
As I said earlier one’s person’s fashion do’s are another’s fashion don’ts. Whatever we think might be totally hideous or crazy will be driving someone else wild with excitement. You’ll think they’re mad and they’ll think you’re a total square. Add to that the cyclical nature of trends in fashion and I think it’s very hard to say what is ever going to be objectively bad. Even things that breach public decency standards are going to float someone’s boat.
But that is what is so interesting about fashion! It is something that is open to the interpretation of millions of potential wearers, and somewhere out there, there will be some individual who will make that thing which you find totally absurd somehow work for them.